Your dinner date has arrived and your guests have come home all suited up for the small occasion. The candles and flowers seem to transcend the occasion beyond a typical meeting of friends for some banter and meals. The charm and enjoyment are palpable, and it’s time to take the party to the next level and bring out the wine.
Wine can add the pomp of restaurant dining to an indoor event and also has the ability to make things less formal. Wine fanatics know that to enjoy wine to the fullest, its condition should be just perfect, and this is where we come in. Looking to serve wine at your gathering but have no idea how to chill it to perfection? We shall be going through the wine serving protocol to make you look like a seasoned wine drinker. In this piece, the focus is on red wine.
Why Is It So Important That You Care About The Temperature?
One of the most overlooked aspects of serving wine is the temperature. Most people will observe the rules when it comes to storage and appropriate glassware to use. This is, unfortunately, not the case when it comes to the serving temperature as we tend to assume that some chilling will do as long as the wine is not ice cold. However, the truth is that chilling has a lot to do with the release of flavors and aromas. No single temperature level can be said to work for all types of wine. As such, you need to find out exactly how chilled your bottle of vino should be before it is ready to drink. Take the bottle out of refrigeration any sooner than you should, and those among your guests that know something about wine will know it just by the smell.
Is Your Wine Too Warm?
To achieve the perfect temperature for your wine, you would need a wine fridge with the best temperature control. If the wine is too warm, then you risk having your red wine taste too soupy. This may make alcohol levels feel a little out of balance. You will also lose the structure of the wine and its freshness. The only way to salvage the situation if you have taken the bottle out of chilling too soon is to get an ice bucket.
Serving Temperature For Red Wine
Never make the mistake of generalizing among grape varieties when it comes to chilling requirements. Red wine served at room temperature is also an oversimplification that you want to avoid.
- Valpolicella Classico (Corvina) and Beaujolais (Gamay) fall in the section of chilled reds.
- Light, fruity red wine: These are to be served slightly chilled. Chill the wine to about 12-13 degrees Celsius (54-56 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Medium-bodied reds: Should be served at a temperature of 14-16 degrees (56-60 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Full-bodied reds: To be served at a temperature of 16-18 degrees Celsius (61-65 degrees Fahrenheit).
Opening a Bottle of Wine
You have seen all types of accidents happen when opening a bottle of wine, but the process is not as troublesome as you may think. The multi-step process we use ensures the bottle does not spill, or worse, break as you open it.
- Get your corkscrew and hold the bottle upright.
- Hold the bottle firmly just below the foil.
- Cut the foil and remove it so that the cork slips off easily. Watch your fingers as you do this.
- Place the corkscrew at the center of the cork and insert it. Ensure you get the middle as this will help the cork pop out easily.
- Ensure that the corkscrew is firmly dug into the cork and pull gently. The cork should pop out without a problem.
Be sure to also read “How Long is Wine Good for After You Open It?” to see the life span of that bottle you have opened.
When you eat out at a fancy restaurant, you may have noticed that the wine is not opened at the table. Wine opening protocol dictates that wine should be opened at a separate table, a guéridon, where all the messy work of opening the bottle can be done. You can do the same at home and open the bottles sometime before food is served just so you observe proper technique.
How Much Wine Should You Serve?
The general rule of the thumb is to count a bottle for each guest. The assumption is that each guest may consume three to four glasses of red wine. Use the seating arrangement as a guide as well. Is there enough space on the table? Can people reach the bottle hassle-free? You can have the bottle centrally located to ensure no one has to reach too far for a refill.
Order of serving your red wines and how to pour
Sparkling reds come first
As tradition dictates, sparkling wine should be served first, even before the cocktails. There is, however, no problem if you decide to serve the cocktails first as one can come before the other. As the night progresses and meal time comes along, you can go ahead and bring out the reds.
Pour 3-4oz for Each Glass
A full glass takes up 5-6 ounces, but the proper serving amount is about half this. The main reason wine is served in halves is so that you do not over-serve your guests who might be too polite to stop you. Besides, the bottles finish much faster if you insist on serving full glasses of wine and may end up going through more bottles than you intended to.
Follow the Sequence Through
There is a sequence to be followed for a dinner where you intend to serve the whole gamut of wines. Light whites should be served first, after which you can move on to the rosés. Once you have had the roses, you can then serve the light reds. Follow this up with the high tannin red wines and finish off with the dessert wines.
Find out “What Happens if You Drink Bad Wine” for tips on taking care of your guests with those questionable bottles you have still.
Decanting is a Must
Not because it affects the quality of the wine in any way, but because it makes you look like a connoisseur even when you don’t know that much about wine. If you know anything about wines, then you know that this step may be necessary for red wines. It is also important that you decant a bottle that is 10 years old or over. Cabernet and Syrah are two thick-skinned types of reds that may just require decanting to get the left-over sediments in the bottle. Check out these two decanters we found for you to decant your red wines with.
Learn about the difference between aerating and decanting in our article “Wine Aeration for Newbies“.
Wine Etiquette That Will Make You Look Good
You may be used to having a sommelier or wine server watch the booze for you but this time, it is upon you to do the serving. Here are some of the basics you need to keep in mind:
- Ladies go first. The rule that the ladies are served first is expected. Start with the old folks and move on to the others. Pour wine for the ladies at the table in clockwise direction until everyone gets some.
- A rule about the last pour. As you keep pouring yourselves more wine and enjoying the conversations, the last pour finally comes around. In this scenario, you are never sure whether to just pour yourself the last drops of the wine or let someone else have it. You can handle this by asking whether anyone wants to share the wine with you. Your guests will encourage you to have the wine yourself, but it is always polite and selfless to ask.
- Ask when you want to re-pour yourself. Find out if the people seated next to you on both sides would like a refill for their glasses before filling up your own glass. Only serve the neighbors across the table if they ask for a refill.
General Tips To Follow When Serving Wine
- If you are unsure of the exact chilling temperature, always serve red wine just below room temperature. This lets the aromas and flavors rise to the top when it’s serving time.
- Pour still red wines to the center of the glass.
- Decant wine whenever you can to allow it some time to breathe.
- Wine should never be served over 20ºC (68ºF).
- Pour sparkling wine towards the side of the wine glass so as not to disturb the bubbles.
- Serve red wine in the appropriate glassware as the shape is important for different types of wine.
- Find a way to preserve the unfinished bottles of wine. Use wine shields, bottle stoppers, argon gas or wine pumps. All of these will keep the wine in good condition until you are ready to drink it again.
- Always have a spare corkscrew handy.
- For dinner parties, remember to serve red wine in the right order. Serve the lighter varieties before the full-bodied ones. Those at room temperature should also be served before the chilled bottles.
Storing Wine at Home
Wine storage can be a headache if you don’t know what area of the house to keep it as it awaits the perfect occasion. The worst thing you can do in this department would be to store your wine at room temperature. There are studies to show that wine degrades up to four times faster at room temperature.
Be sure to also check out “How to Store Wine After Opening” for more tips on putting your wine away correctly.
Wine Coolers Are a Good Option To Use
Wine coolers come in all shapes and sizes. The standard cooler is often a bit noisy as it comes with a fan and condenser. You can opt for a thermoelectric cooler if you don’t want the noise. However, the thermoelectric cooler is only good for short-term storage as it develops temperature fluctuations that make it unsuitable for long-term storage.
Thinking of getting a case of wine to store? Check out “How Many Bottles in a Case of Wine?” to see how you can mix and match your wines for that case.
Red wines are an important part of the dining process. Before you head out to the store for your best temperature choices, think about storage, and have steps in place for keeping the drinks in the best red wine serving temperatures possible until the point of service.
Thank you for reading! Let us know in the comments below how you prefer to store your Red wines at home. Also, be sure to check out “How to Hold a Wine Glass?“, “How to Cork Wine Correctly“, or “How to Make Wine Taste Better” for more tips on how to treat your wines at home.
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Bottoms up! We’ll uncork ya later!! 🍷